Breathing is the remote control to the mind and body because it is the only autonomic function that we can voluntarily change. What does this mean?
Historically, breathing was believed to be something that happens to us automatically, without any manual intervention. Ancient exercises and modern science have shown us that we can consciously control our own breath to affect mental and physical processes such as our heart, nervous system, stress levels, sleep, digestion, emotions, and more.
As a result, breathing exercises are a simple habit that have gained traction with the mainstream from Navy SEALS, to Olympic athletes, to business professionals, to moms. Backed by evidence from top universities like Stanford and Yale, breathing is emerging as one of the most powerful tools we have to change how we think, feel, perform, and recover.
What is ‘breathwork?
Breathwork is the practice of adapting your own breathing patterns to induce the mental, emotional, and physical state you need in the moment. That’s how quickly breathing exercises work, within 30 seconds you can feel the gears shift in your mind and body. We recommend a daily practice in order to maximise the long term benefits of but it only takes a brief moment to give you support right where you are.
You can find an entire library of breathing exercises and classes on the Breathwrk app to support you when and how you need, from falling asleep to reducing anxiety, increasing performance, elevating energy levels and focus, or even blissing out.
What’s the best way to start?
The best time to begin is now, by slowing down your rate of breathing and breathing through your nose. Activating those two habits alone will have windfalls of benefits into your daily life.
Breathing through your nose humidifies and warms the air, increases blood flow to the lungs, and improves overall oxygenation. Slow and deep breathing will balance the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress. Here are three exercises you can do right now:
Exercise #1: ‘Balance’
Inhale through your nose for the count of five, and exhaling through your nose for a count of five. Continue this practice for 30 seconds to a minute.
As you breathe, bring your attention to the base of your ribs and feel them expand horizontally as you inhale, this will help engage the base of the lungs and main breathing muscle, the diaphragm. Once you complete, scan your body and mind to register your own response to that breathing pattern.
Exercise #2: ‘Calm’
Next we can play with the length of the exhale. As we inhale, our heart rate increases and as we exhale, our heart rate decreases, and so elongating the exhale is one easy way to relax our body by sending signals of safety and rest.
We can use Breathwrk’s ‘Calm’ breath to practice by inhaling through your nose for four seconds and exhaling for six seconds. This emphasised exhale stimulates a long nerve that winds from the base of the head all the way down to the legs called the vagal nerve, which in turn engages the body’s natural relaxation response bringing the body and mind into a state of balance.
Exercise #3: ‘Sigh’
One of the fastest ways to relax the body quickly whether before a big pitch, game, or in a state of anxiety is to sigh. You can try it right now and when you need it most but an inhale through the nose and exhale with an audible sigh is the #breathhack we will leave you with.
Check out the Breathwrk app to simulate high altitude training, increase your endurance, improve your sleep, bring concentration to lazer-like focus, and of course calm yourself down. Learn more here.
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